Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Serenity Now!

The sound of waves gently breaking on the shore.  Seagulls and pelicans flying peacefully overhead.  Iridescent shells lying in wait in the sand.  A thrilling book and surfers as entertainment. 
These are the things I’d been looking forward to for years.  A chance to get away to my favorite place in the world and de-stress, unwind, unravel.  Be still. 

It started the week we were supposed to leave.  My son’s car needed a repair.  And before his was back from the shop, our car decided to join it.  For three or four days, four of us juggled one car for rides to work and back. 

The day before we were to leave on my long-awaited, much-needed dream vacation, my husband’s foot seemed to reinjure (how he didn’t know) and at 2:30 am, T minus 6 hours, he was in the emergency room with an extremely painful, right foot.  It was broken. 

Somewhere around 9:00 am we managed to load up our rented vehicle and hop on the freeway.  Finally, we were on our way.   Here I come, peace and quiet! 

We were out of the city, well on our way.  Traffic wasn’t bad. A pick-up truck pulling a trailer and boat passed us.  I was talking to my husband who was doing his best to drive on his gimpy foot, when I saw his eyes suddenly grow wide. 

I turned to the road to see a tire roll off the trailer and fly up in the air fifty or sixty feet.  My husband swerved to avoid it when we heard something come down hard on the roof of the rental car.  We pulled over and looked.  Something—a nut, a hubcap, something had dented the roof about a foot back from the windshield.  We still have no idea what it was. 

We got back in the car and headed on our way.  At long last, we were headed toward rest and relaxation.  My mind could let go of the world and all the problems that come with it for a little while. 

We finally arrived at our heavenly retreat.  The moment I’d waited for.  Nothing but time spent in the tranquility of the sand and sea.  Nirvana. Xanadu. 

Serenity now!

During our week at our refuge from the world, the garbage disposal broke, a toilet broke, the rental car was dented twice by a huge, square pole sitting in our parking space and while our sons were out on a solo trip to a comic book store, a ladder fell out the back of a truck on the highway and my son was forced to run over it. 

I wanted so much to run away from the world, even if only for a week.  Seven days of peace from bills, pain, work, t.v., the horrid news. 

Seven days with my family.  Seven days to exhale. Seven days to rest. 

And there were some definite times of rest and relaxation.   But I found I couldn’t leave all my troubles behind.  Going away was no magic cure-all.  It wasn’t the answer to my weary soul. 

Jesus is.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus invites us to come to Him to find rest for our souls.  And He is wherever we are. 

It’s not the sand and the waves, or the mountains and stars, or an exotic city where we’ll find true rest.

It’s in the person of Jesus Christ. 

We can lay our burdens down at His feet and know He’ll give us rest, peace, joy and a way through our troubles.  He is the rest our souls are longing for. 

So if you dream of going away on a fancy vacation to get some rest, remember vacations aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.  And even if it goes off without a hitch, it's only a temporary solution to our permanent need for Jesus.  

He loves you and He's waiting.

God bless!

The Treasure:

What's your favorite place to get away with Jesus? 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Freedom We Will Never Lose

Today is July 4th, a day when we in America celebrate our hard-fought independence, giving us freedoms we otherwise would not have known. 

Our country was founded on great and godly principals by men who dared to fight for them.  Over two hundred years later, we still have a lot to celebrate.  We have (and sometimes take for granted) freedoms that other countries can only dream about. 

I still look on our soldiers and all they've accomplished with deep gratitude. I am still filled with pride when I stand and listen to the inspired lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner. I am proud that we are a people still free to use our voices to speak out against injustice.

And I am still proud and overjoyed when I see immigrants who've worked hard to have the privilege to stand in ceremony and receive their citizenship.

I am still blessed beyond words to live in a country where I have the freedom to speak, walk, build, grow, do and be just about whatever I wish.  It’s not a perfect country, but the land we walk on is unique in its vision, birth and development.  And I believe it’s been blessed by God. 

But the full scope of our Founding Fathers’ vision is eroding.  As the government seeks to rule over our country more and more, facing the loss of certain freedoms can get downright depressing. 

The first amendment to the Constitution guarantees us, among other freedoms, the free exercise of religion.  And yet people are spending time in jail for hosting Bible studies in their home.  Kids are told they aren’t allowed to wear “religious” t-shirts or pray within the walls of schools.

And that’s just the beginning. 

That’s minor compared to the persecution Christians face in other countries. But the reality is we don’t know to what extent we will yet see persecution in this country.  We’ve strayed a long way since The Bill of Rights gave us those freedoms. 

But there is one joy we can be sure of.

No one can ever take the freedom we have in Jesus.  We may someday go to jail for speaking about it. For carrying a Bible. For gathering in His Name.  But our freedom will forever be imprinted on our hearts.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Those freedoms were hard-fought for, too.  They cost us nothing, but Jesus paid with His life in pain and suffering. 

No matter what happens to our Constitutional rights, in Christ we will forever be free.

Free from sin. Free from spiritual poverty. Free from condemnation. Free from eternal judgment.

Free to know God. Free to be loved and to love. Free to walk in the Spirit. Free to serve the Lord.

Free to live with Him forever. 

Faith in Action:

While you're out there celebrating at the grill with steaks and burgers and cake decorated to look like the American flag, let's celebrate by using our freedom and tell somebody about Jesus! Let's do it for believers in China and Laos and Iran and other countries where people are not free to openly talk about God.  Where men and women are imprisoned right now simply for speaking the gospel.  (You can read more about the persecuted church at Voice of the Martyrs.) 

And then tell me how it went!

And let’s pray for our country.  It is up to us, the Church, the body of Christ, to lift up our nation before the Lord.  We need His grace and His wisdom.  We need Him to open the spiritual eyes of every leader in this country. 

We need a revival. 

We need to seek our first love—Jesus Christ—in our own hearts first.  Then we need to take the joy of our salvation and fill our nation, one heart at a time, with the love of Christ.

God bless and Happy 4th of July!